Heart disease: How long you should exercise each day to avoid heart disease
Taking 20 minutes to exercise in your early 70s could lower your risk of developing heart disease, according to a new study. It’s never too late to introduce more activity into your daily routine, whether it’s taking more steps or gardening more. Here’s what the experts said about how exercising in middle and old age can lower your risk of heart disease.
The benefits of exercise for cardiovascular health have been well documented, and most of us know that staying active well into old age can contribute to your physical and mental well-being.
However, a new Italian study has found that just 20 minutes of exercise a day in your 60s can halve the risk of cardiovascular problems.
Being active at an early age is beneficial, but this research suggests that it’s never too late to start exercising.
The research recommended 20 minutes of “moderate to vigorous” exercise per day.
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Moderate exercise included exercises such as walking, bowling and fishing.
Vigorous exercise is more demanding, including cycling, dancing, gym workouts, swimming, and even gardening.
The study noted that the earlier exercise was done in old age, the more the individual benefited.
Male participants who followed a regular exercise routine over time, in addition to having an active lifestyle – classified as “steady-high physical activity” by the study – had a 52% lower risk of cardiovascular disease. % compared to those who had “stable-low physical activity”. ” physical activity.
In an accompanying article, Dr. Enrico Fabris and Dr. Gianfranco Sinagra of the University of Trieste, Italy, examined why exercise has such a beneficial effect on heart health.
They explained that exercise helps improve arterial blood flow and may reduce blood clot formation.
They write: “The detailed mechanisms by which [physical activity] can reduce the future risk of [cardiovascular disease] remain not fully understood.
“The beneficial effect of [physical activity] can be explained simply by its ability to slow down the process of atherosclerosis through better control of blood pressure, blood sugar and lipid profile.
They discovered that “movement is medicine” also at the end of life. »
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The British Heart Foundation (BHF) has recommended getting 150 minutes of moderately intense aerobic exercise each week – a very similar number to this study.
The BHF has recognized that not everyone will be able to get 20 minutes of exercise a day right away, and you may need to build up over time at a pace that works for you.
BHF said: “Sessions of at least 10 minutes throughout the day are a good way to start.
“You can increase the number of sessions you do each day once you get a little more used to it.”
Walking further and more often – even if it’s just around your house or garden – could be a good place to start.
Tackling the stairs can also be an aerobic activity.
BHF described moderate aerobic activity as activity that raises your heart rate, makes you feel warmer and breathes harder – but added that you should still be able to carry on a conversation.
Over time, your walks can get longer and faster, or even turn into a jog.
The BHF also recommends exercising to strengthen your muscles twice a week.
He said, “It could be exercising with weights, working out with resistance bands, or heavy gardening.”
If you feel pain during exercise, you may need to adapt the movements to do them while sitting, for example.
Talk to your doctor if you have trouble starting an exercise routine or are able to walk longer distances or climb stairs.
They may be able to recommend physical therapy or special exercises to get you started.